Will the Brussels region join Flanders and Wallonia?
Belgium is heading straight for a total ban on ritual slaughter on its soil. After Wallonia and Flanders, which banned the practice two years ago, the Brussels region is looking into the issue. Thursday morning, the Belgian Minister for Animal Welfare, Bernard Clerfayt, submitted a draft order in this direction. ” There is scientific truth that animals suffer when they are slaughtered. […] The animal takes several tens of seconds, if not several minutes, before dying. There are techniques that reduce animal suffering during slaughter “, He indicates, recognizing that it is a” question sensible ».
What does justice say?
In 2017, the decree taken in Flanders required the stunning of animals before slaughter ” in order to reduce their suffering “. It entered into force in 2019. In the meantime, Wallonia has taken a similar decision. But for Jews and Muslims, the slaughter of cattle without prior stunning is necessary to obtain kosher or hallal meat: they denounced a violation of freedom of religion. The Constitutional Court of Belgium therefore turned to the European authorities for its opinion.
In December 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a state can impose the prior stunning of an animal during its slaughter without denying the freedom of worship and traditional Jewish rites and Muslims. Logical consequence: the Belgian Constitutional Court validated at the end of September 2021 the obligation of prior stunning in Flanders and Wallonia.
How do Jews and Muslims react?
« The decision of the Constitutional Court sends a very clear message to the Jews of Belgium. We reject your religious practices, your rights are secondary to those of animals », Reacted Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress (CJE). Muslim organizations denounce, ” an emotional symbolic measure, which simply serves – to the detriment of religious minorities – to appease the conscience of the average consumer and to obscure the reality that animals are raised as objects of consumption in industrial mega-stalls “. An appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is envisaged.
What consequences for Hauts-de-France?
Since Flanders and Wallonia have made stunning of animals compulsory before slaughter, only one slaughterhouse remains in Belgium that practices ritual slaughter: that of Anderlecht, near Brussels. In this slaughterhouse, in 2020, according to Le Soir, 65% of the cattle were slaughtered without stunning. For sheep and lambs, it is 80%; for calves, it is 85%, for small goats, it is 100%.
If the ban were extended to the Belgian capital, the country’s hallal and kosher butchers would have no other solution than to turn to neighboring countries, and therefore France. ” Our wholesale and butcher customers would direct their animals to sectors abroad, mainly in the North of France. There, we are already rubbing our hands at the idea of recovering all Brussels activity », Assures Paul Thielmans, spokesperson for the slaughterhouses of Anderlecht, to our colleagues. In 2019, five slaughterhouses in the North had received approval for the ritual slaughter of Eid al-Kébir.